Mick Mulvaney

Updated at 7:02 p.m. ET

The White House pursued a "months-long effort" involving top officials to extract concessions from Ukraine's government aimed at helping President Trump's reelection in 2020, House Democrats charged in a new report.

As the House appears to wrap up the investigative phase of its impeachment inquiry, a group of Senate Republicans met Thursday with White House officials, including counsel Pat Cipollone, to map out how a potential trial on articles of impeachment of President Trump could play out in the upper chamber.

During an extended phone interview with Fox & Friends on Friday morning, the president said he would like Rep. Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, to be called as a witness.

"Frankly, I want a trial," he said.

President Trump outlined his Ukrainian pressure strategy directly to a top diplomat who was described as being charged with helping to execute it, another key diplomat told House investigators this week.

Meanwhile, sources in the Ukrainian capital told two U.S. news agencies that Kyiv had been pressured directly about American assistance in the spring.

So it was another big week in House Democrats' impeachment investigation of Trump and the Ukraine affair — and for Republicans' increasingly aggressive defense of the president.

Here's what you need to know.

Some of the top names in conservative politics have a message for President Trump: don't fire acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. In fact, Trump should "make him permanent in the Chief of Staff role," they write in an open letter obtained by NPR and set to be released later Thursday.

President Trump's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, on Sunday again tried to control the damage from his earlier acknowledgment that the White House used nearly $400 million in aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate the 2016 presidential election.

Since Mulvaney made the stunning admission on Thursday, he has been walking the remarks back and assigning responsibility to the media, insisting that his words have been misconstrued.

President Trump deputized lawyer Rudy Giuliani to run a shadow foreign policy for Ukraine outside the State Department, witnesses told Congress this past week — and the White House said people should "get over it."

It has been a busy week. Here's what you need to know about the latest in the Ukraine affair and the impeachment investigation.

Mister mayor

Giuliani has been an important figure in Trump world for years, but what investigators heard was how central he was in the plan to get Ukraine's government to launch investigations that Trump wanted.

Each week — and some days, it seems, each hour — brings more clarity to the picture of the Ukraine affair and the political crisis it sparked in Washington over impeachment.

But some of the biggest questions still don't have answers.

Here's a look at where the saga stands, what investigators want to learn and what major decisions still must be reached before the fever breaks.

The Ukraine affair

No one disputes the basic outlines of the Ukraine affair, including President Trump:

Updated at 6:30 p.m. ET

White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged Thursday that President Trump expected concessions from Ukraine's president in exchange for engagement — but said that's just how business is done in diplomacy.

Mulvaney was asked whether it was a quid pro quo for the White House to condition a meeting between Trump and Ukraine's president on an agreement by Ukraine to launch an investigation that might help Trump politically.

The White House removed the core of its Ukraine policy team in the spring and replaced it with "three amigos" considered more reliable for the plan to pressure Kyiv, a senior U.S. diplomat was described as telling House investigators on Tuesday.

That's according to the account Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., gave to reporters about the closed-door deposition by George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary in the State Department's European and Eurasian Bureau.

Government spending fights have become almost routine in Washington, and every time negotiators reach an impasse, there's a scramble to assign blame.

This week, lawmakers are confronting another budget stalemate, and instead of pointing fingers at one another, many on Capitol Hill are grumbling that the White House is to blame if they can't reach a deal. The biggest culprit in many minds is acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

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